History of OTC

History of OTC

Educational opportunities in the Ozarks took an important step forward April 3, 1990, when residents of Springfield and thirteen surrounding public school districts voted to establish a "community technical college." As the region's new comprehensive community college, Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) provided an open admission, two-year college with a focus on technical education.

With the introduction of OTC, citizens could now earn a one-year Certificate, two-year Associate of Applied Science degree (A.A.S.), or an Associate of Arts degree (A.A.). Word quickly spread of OTC's commitment to small class sizes as well as its professional faculty and staff, diverse curriculum, and focus on quality.

In September 1991, with 1,198 college credit students, OTC opened its doors at Cox Medical Center North and at 815 N. Sherman in Lincoln Hall and Graff Hall, facilities that formerly housed the Graff Area Vocational Technical Center. These two buildings became the cornerstone of the first OTC campus.

In 1996, Ozarks Technical Community College, on its first attempt, received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

OTC's potential to meet the job training needs of the area quickly became apparent. New programs were developed, and existing programs were continually revised with guidance and input from the members of the more than 40 program advisory committees comprised of citizens and business and industry leaders. Since 1991, more than 200,000 citizens of southwest Missouri have taken advantage of one or more of the college's educational services.

Enrollment grew at an annual compound rate of 13.3% between 1991 and 2009. While enrollment soared, quality education continued to prevail. In February 2001, OTC was given a ten-year reaccreditation from the North Central Association.

With this growth rate, the campus needed to expand to accommodate the demand for facilities. The Norman K. Myers Technical Education Center opened in the summer of 1997, the Information Commons in the summer of 1998, the Information Commons East in the summer of 1999, and the Industry and Transportation Technology Center in 2000. Renovation of historic Lincoln Hall was completed in 2001, after the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in May 2000. A plaque recognizing the building's placement on the National Register and honoring it as the first Julius Rosenwald School in Missouri was unveiled in August 2004. The Information Commons West opened in 2002. The newly renovated Graff Hall reopened in the fall of 2003. The pedestrian mall was funded by a state grant and the fountain was made possible by a gift from John Q. Hammons.

The first classes were held at the OTC Richwood Valley Campus in the spring 2007 semester. Named for the historic area where the campus now stands, OTC Richwood Valley is located on Highway 14 between the cities of Ozark and Nixa.

The college's growth continued in the fall of 2007, when its fine arts programs moved to the third floor of the Jim D. Morris Building, in the historic Gillioz Theater complex in downtown Springfield. Later that fall, the Center for Workforce Development expanded into a new location just west of the OTC Springfield Campus. In 2008, the OTC Waynesville Center moved to a new 10,00 square-foot facility in the Townfield Plaza Center, and OTC assumed the operation of the Lisenced Practical Nursing program at Gibson Technical Center in Reeds Spring.

In February of 2011, the North Central Association granted OTC another ten-year reaccreditation. That summer, OTC became the Ozarks Technical Community College system, a transition that put the institution in a better position for future growth and expansion plans. In the fall of 2011, the OTC Lebanon Center moved into new facilities donated to the College by Reuben and Mary Lou Casey, and the college began construction on its third full-service campus, the OTC Table Rock Campus in Hollister. In the spring of 2012, construction began on a new home for the OTC Waynesville Center. The OTC Table Rock Campus and the new facility in Waynesville are both scheduled to open in the fall of 2013.

The College Today

In addition to its college credit component, OTC provides area citizens with a variety of educational options:

  • Adult Education and Literacy is available to adults working toward the General Education Diploma (GED) in a variety of locations throughout the Ozarks.
  • Non-credit personal and professional enrichment courses are offered at local high schools and community centers throughout the region.
  • Specific training can be custom designed for business and industry at the work site.
  • English as a Second Language classes are available throughout the year.

OTC's comprehensive mission, focus on job-skill training, and college transfer preparation have made it a vital part of one of the fastest growing areas in the state of Missouri. During the 2010-2011 academic year, the college served approximately 29,000 citizens, with over 19,000 enrolled in college credit classes. OTC looks to a promising and productive future as faculty, staff, and community members work together to provide the best possible educational value for all residents of the Ozarks.